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Thursday, 04 August 2011 03:08

Reflecting on a momentous year

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Many things have happened in 2010 in the Church, among religious congregations, in politics and in society.  We've changed prime ministers and for the first time have a woman leader.  We've had a Federal election and a few State ones as well.

We've witnessed terrible floods in Pakistan and Indonesia and very recently close to home in the eastern states.  Some countries such as Indonesia have experienced double natural disasters which have devastated certain regions.

In Chile we saw the miraculous survival of the miners after more than two months underground. At the Pike River mine in New Zealand the men weren't as lucky with many families now grieving the loss of their loved ones.

Throughout the world we continue to see people forced to flee violent and oppressive situations in their homelands and seek refuge in peaceful countries like Australia. The danger many asylum seekers face in taking this perilous path was very evident this week with the tragic loss of life of more than 30 Iraqis and Iranians who drowned in stormy seas off Christmas Island.

As Bishop Joe Grech, Australian Bishops' delegate for Migration issues said: "Our hearts and prayers go out to these people and their families.

"To make the arduous journey by boat and to lose their lives just short of safety is tragic. This just puts into perspective the incredible risks taken by people to escape their homelands. They make this journey with children, so they are obviously escaping very dire circumstances. They are not coming for a holiday," said Bishop Joe.

We thank the many Religious and lay people who support and advocate for asylum seekers and refugees in this very important ministry - on Christmas Island, at other detention centres and in the community. As Christmas approaches we rejoice that soon children and vulnerable families will be moved out of detention, and we extend our support for the Red Cross, Churches and some of our religious congregations in their efforts to find them homes.

Our wonderful canonisation ceremony in Rome, and in many locations throughout Australia during October recognised not only the contribution of Mary MacKillop and her Sisters but of religious life to the Australian church and society.

The launch of our new report 'See, I am doing a new thing,' on the 2009 survey of Catholic Religious Institutes in Australia, was also cause for celebration. While it showed that our Religious Sisters, Brothers and Clerical Priests are older and fewer than 30 years ago, it also revealed a widening and significant contribution being made by Religious in many ministries on the margins of society.

As the report highlighted, it is a time of change for many congregations as we consider our future. In September this year, the Mercy Sisters had a very significant Institute Chapter and are now working towards a new Congregation of Sisters of Mercy Australia and Papua New Guinea which will mean the dissolving of 15 Mercy congregations. We wish them well as they move into the new thing God is doing with them.

In recent months a number of our congregational leaders have completed their term of office as provincials of their order.  Some have been re-elected, others are being recycled, and some are taking up leadership for the first time. CRA's National Council and staff look forward to working with the leaders of each congregation in 2011.

As we draw close to Christmas I will leave the last word to our first Australian saint.

"Let us go to the crib of the Christ Child
And reflect the on the lessons of this birth,
The poverty and the helplessness,
The love but especially the hope for the future!"

St Mary of the Cross, 14 December 1890

Best wishes for a very Happy Christmas and a safe and peaceful New Year.

Sister Anne Derwin RSJ
CRA President

 

Have your say...(Comments are moderated.)

"Thank you Anne for a hope-filled and beautiful message. May your Christmas be especially blessed and 2011 a true Year of the Lord. "
- Liz Morris rsj, 17-12-2010

"Thank you Anne for keeping us looking outward as indeed Mary's canonisation encouraged us to do. May Chrismas call us all to awareness and contemplation. 69ef5 65ef5 65e "
- Antoinette Baldwin rsj, 17-12-2010